The Dilkash Lahore Project was launched last year in October, intending to restore the original face of The Mall, to begin with.
Of the ten buildings it had marked for restoration, Shah Din and Dinga Singh buildings stand anew while work on the rest of the buildings is going on.
The Mall has many special features apart from its beautiful architecture. One is trees. It is also called Thandi Sarak because it has more trees than any other road in the city. But the old dwellers in the city have seen many trees fall or disappear over years. “Every time strong wind blows, a tree falls ‘mysteriously’ somewhere on The Mall,” says Dr Ajaz Anwar, Vice Chairman, Dilkash Lahore Project.
“People think trees block the view of their building. They don’t know that the passersby will stop and have a look at their building if there is shade of a tree around. In the absence of a tree, they would most likely walk away quickly. It is important to plant the same tree specie at places where they once were. That must be done,” he says.
“There was a promise in the Dilkash Lahore plan to plant lots of indigenous trees — pipal, mulberry, kikar. There used to be a number of kikar trees outside the chief minister’s house but they have gradually disappeared. On The Mall, the pipal trees are packed in cement slabs and have no breathing space,” he says.
The Dilkash Lahore Project was launched in October last year. It is headed by Justice (r) Khalilur Rehman Ramday and many eminent people are its members.
Mian Waheed, the project manager, says apart from renovation of the marked buildings such as the E-Plomer building, Ghulam Rasool building in which Ferozsons is housed, EFU building and others, the project has succeeded in putting all the cable and wiring underground in front of the Shah Din building, and the work in front of Pak Tea House is on.
“We have had meetings with market unions from Charing Cross to Regal Chowk for laying underground cables and work will start soon,” says Mian Waheed.
“For tourist attraction, the Dilkash Lahore Project plans to turn Beadon Road entrance, Alfalah front and Eat & Sip corner at Regal Chowk into picnic points. Apart from food points, these places will also have musicians – all to remove the gloom and add cheer to The Mall. Of course all this is possible late at night, say after 10, because of the huge traffic otherwise,” says the project manager.
Camel cart introduced recently, has become famous overnight. Now there is plan to run double decker bus on The Mall with guides who would know all about the history of The Mall.
“There was a time when there used to be only double decker bus in the town. The roads were clear, no branch of tree would come in the way of the traffic,” recalls Ajaz Anwar.
The new-old look of the Mall is wonderful no doubt. One only hopes the Project takes into account the pedestrians’ concerns too and a walk on the Mall is not just a nostalgic experience.
— Saadia Salahuddin